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January 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

by Alex Schwartz

ROSELLE, N.J. – D’Angelo Russell stole the show at the Roselle Catholic (NJ) Hoops for Troops Basketball Classic last night.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting finished with 21 points, including 17 in the second quarter. It was during that period that he connected on five 3-pointers during about a five minute span.

The No. 12 ranked player in the NBE Sports Class of 2014 Post-July Top 75 helped lead Montverde Academy (FL) to a 77-51 victory over the host, Roselle Catholic.

“I feel like I try to step up and make big-time plays for my teammates and for myself and I just felt like it was the opportunity to go,” Russell said of his second quarter outburst.

Asked how often he gets in a zone like that, Russell replied, “I try to as quick as I can. The atmosphere was great, so adapting to the atmosphere was just what I try to do, and that’s what happened.”

The elite Class of 2014 guard talked in a bit more detail about what playing in front of a big-time crowd means.

“My coach said something to me that really touched me before the game,” Russell said. “He was like, ‘Playing in different states is probably the first time people get to see y’all play and if they’ve heard about you and you don’t show up like they’ve heard about you then you’re really nothing, so just show up.’ And that’s what I try to do.”

Russell is a player who many people know about, including elite Division I programs. Indiana, Lousiville, Ohio State, Missouri, Xavier, North Carolina State, Nebraska, and Memphis were the schools that he could remember he has offers from.

In addition, Russell said he is garnering interest from the likes of North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown, and, to some extent, Kentucky.

He claims no favorites at this point and discussed what he is looking for in a school.

“Just, I’m trying to go in, play right away,” Russell said. “I’m trying to work for everything I get, every opportunity I get. Being around the right coaching staff, right type of guys and just getting better every year.”

The junior said that location is not really a factor for him right now, but style of play is something that could come into the equation.

“Playing style, I’ve heard that I play at a slow pace. It doesn’t hurt my game when I play fast, but I feel like I’ve been told that I was a slow-paced type player, so I guess just going to a slow-paced type school.”

Russell is a native of Louisville, Ky. and he talked about whether he feels any pressure to play for Rick Pitino and the Cardinals.

“I don’t look at it as pressure,” Russell said. “I just look at is as, they—fans and whatnot—want me to come down and join Quentin Snider and all the great players that’s going in there and I feel like I don’t think it’s pressure, just going by and just doing what I feel is best is what’s going to count.”

Snider is a 6-foot point guard from Ballard (KY) who ranks No. 34 in the NBE Sports 2014 Top 75.

“We’re like brothers,” Russell said of his relationship with Snider. “We’ve been playing against each other. The last few years we played with each other, so we’re like brothers.”

A versatile player who sees himself as “a basketball player” rather than any particular position, Russell discussed what most schools are recruiting him to play.

“I like to ask whoever’s recruiting me what position they see me as and they say—usually the answers I’ve been getting [are that] their two and three play the same,” Russell said, “just one runs different sides, but they’re really much the same. So, as long as I’m on the floor [it is fine].”

Does that mean he probably will not be on the ball at the next level? “I can, I mean, I can . . . it depends.”

As for the here and now, Russell is part of an undefeated Montverde Academy team that some consider the best high school team in the country.

“It’s definitely one game at a time, but I feel like if we lose, we’re definitely doing something wrong,” Russell said of the mentality going forward. “We shouldn’t lose with the type of guys we have. So, just being together as a team, I feel like we have the best team and we shouldn’t lose.”

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